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Offense Finds Rhythm, Delivers Late – But With Time Left For Rodgers, Packers

ARLINGTON, Texas – The Cowboys' offense had been building toward Sunday's performance.

They scored a touchdown on their opening drive for the first time this season.

They scored a touchdown on their first three drives for the first time since Week 5 of last season.

They converted 7 of 12 on third down.

They dominated time possession, 35:06 to 24:54.

They even scored a clutch touchdown to take the lead late – though in hindsight, Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers had just enough time left to steal another game at AT&T Stadium, 35-31, for the second time in 10 months.

"It's definitely frustrating," running back Ezekiel Elliott said. "But we knew the type of caliber player that Aaron Rodgers is and we've seen it the few times that we've played him. … We fought really hard. I'm proud of these guys."

With 1:13 remaining in the fourth quarter, Dak Prescott perfectly executed a zone read, faking a right-side handoff to Elliott and running left for an 11-yard touchdown – his fourth score of the game – to give the Cowboys a 31-28 lead.

But the popular postgame question, after Rodgers calmly drove 75 yards for the winning score with only 11 seconds left, was this: Why so much time left for the Packers' star quarterback? Why not burn a little more clock before trying to score?

The play before Prescott's touchdown, the clock stopped with an incomplete pass intended for Dez Bryant. But Prescott was focused on scoring from 11 yards out on the ensuing third-and-2, not worried about draining more time.

"You're playing with fire doing that," Prescott said. "Those guys get paid on defense, too. If you're running down and you're trying to get it to third down, you're wasting the time. It's a slippery slope. For us, it's important to get in the end zone and put the pressure on them."

The offense also had faith in its defense, but Rodgers delivered an encore of his divisional-round magic last January, driving the Packers for the winning score in nine clutch plays.

It was another disheartening finish for the Cowboys, especially after its talented offense delivered its most complete performance of the season.

Their 31 points were a season-high. Prescott logged his sixth career game with at least three touchdowns and added the late rushing touchdown. Wide receiver Cole Beasley got more involved, scoring his first two touchdowns of the season.

One miscue, Prescott's lone interception, was a pass that bounced off wide receiver Terrance Williams' hands and returned 21 yards for a touchdown by Green Bay's Damarious Randall in the fourth quarter.

Elliott got going, too. The running game started slow against a stacked line of scrimmage, but he finished with a season-best 116 yards, including 85 yards in the fourth quarter. He converted a key fourth-and-1 conversion at the Packers' 20, reaching his arm out over the line for the yard – something he'd prefer to avoid because it risks a fumble.

"I hate doing that on short yardage. I don't think I've ever done that," he said. "I just knew in that moment you've just got to have it. You've got to get that fourth down."

Prescott scored three plays later – just before Rodgers ripped the game away yet again.

The Cowboys will head into the bye week disappointed, but with positive signs from their offense.

"We're getting to where we want to be," Prescott said. "We've got high expectations for ourselves. We've got a high standard on the offensive side of the ball and this team in general. Moving the ball, converting on third downs, we did a pretty good job of that tonight."

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